In 15 years, Bart de Gans has gone from being a pastry apprentice to opening his own consulting and training business, Perfri. This Dutch globetrotter has made innovation and development of his own colorful style that is based on classic pastry his main letter of introduction. Sharing knowledge, enjoying the local gastronomy and pastry of each place you visit, and developing products with large companies in the sector are some of his main axes of activity and the source of his many creations, with which thousands of followers enjoy on Instagram. For his official presentation to the readers of our magazine he wanted to be inspired by his favorite culture, Asia, and in his favorite country, Japan, where he constantly finds opportunities to expand his knowledge and inspire.
It is a look towards the ‘Far East’ – as he likes to call it – from the West, that is, Europe, and from the respect for the traditions that have been transmitted to him by many professionals in the area, he makes a repertoire of pies, individual and very particular bonbons.
Can you define your own style? Do you think it is important for a chef to pursue their own style, and make it easy to recognize?
I am always fascinated to see if colleagues have their own recognizable style. In my opinion it is important to create and maintain a good style. I prefer to leave it to others to describe my style. I like to approach pastry from different angles: classic, innovative or somewhere in between by reinventing a classic pastry. My aim is to go with the new developments in pastry and sometimes trying to create them. I am always striving for something different, although sometimes this is not easy.
What are the main trends in artisan pastry you think are here –or soon to be here- to stay?
In my opinion there are three main trends:
- Reinvented classics – I see that food classics have become more interesting to people. In today’s high-speed world, people like familiar things that link to traditions. For pastry I think it is also important that it is made with real and honest ingredients with respect for the original craft, and that it is based on authentic stories. Combining this with new techniques, ingredients, equipment and presentation we can give classic pastries a new experience which is relevant today.
- Indulge responsibly – I see that people have distinct moments of healthy eating and moments of true indulgence: so when they want to treat themselves to something indulging they go for it. In doing so, they increasingly take smaller portions into account: “smaller but better”. And they are more and more focused on social responsibility: clear and traceable ingredients with an origin and conscious of allergens.
- Fusion – People have always traveled the world, and therefore also flavors, cuisines and ingredients. Nowadays people travel more than ever and with social media new flavors, ingredients and preparations spread more quickly than before. I think this also creates a multicultural society and cuisine on a global scale. With these influences, trends arise with which we can invent new creations: a fusion of recipes and preparations from different cultures around the world.
“If your style comes from what you really stand for as a person I think you will more likely be successful”
Customized molds and colorful and shiny glazes seem to be everywhere, do you think that makes the difference?
Personally, I think that the difference comes from a synergy between multiple flavors, textures and preparations that are in harmony with the finished product. Or the other way around, you can work from both angles. Before a product is designed, you should think about the total concept: showing an authentic idea, a certain flavor or a specific theme that also corresponds with the look and feel. Like an art designer approaches things. Sometimes a glaze or mold fits nicely and sometimes another finishing technique works better. That depends on the total concept of a product.
And if you want to open a pastry boutique, what would you recommend first of all?
First of all, your style must be clear and recognizable. And if this style comes from what you really stand for as a person I think you will more likely be successful. Because I believe that people not only connect to nice and indulging products, but also to what the people behind stand for. And I recommend focusing on a certain core assortment that is in line with your strengths and style, and to stay away from a range that is too broad to manage.
What creations are you sharing with us?
For me the starting point for developing a concept can be different every time. When the editorial team invited me for an article for so good.. magazine I really wanted to challenge myself to create something innovative for myself. I was looking for something new (never seen before), authentic, surprising and in touch with nature. Asian influences fascinate me enormously. From a European point of view, I call Asia ‘’The Far East’’. Traveling I have visited this continent a few times and it inspired me every time, Japan in particular. I honestly think we (“the West”) have not seen and understood everything yet when it comes to their ingredients, flavors, textures and techniques. There is still so much to explore. So Japan was the main inspiration point for what I have created and shared with you. To create several concept designs, I got advice from Michelin-star Chefs and from an importer of Japanese ingredients. These colleagues have given me new insights, preparations and recipes which I applied to the creations I now present in So Good, called: “Bonsai Entremet”, “Bamboo Petit Gateaux” and “Asian Sunrise Bonbon”.
You will find these three recipes in so good #20